There are usually two sections to an epistle by St. Paul. The first section focuses on theological teaching and the second section on practical living.
St. Paul understood that the next step after Baptism and initial conversion was sanctification. We all have many valuable gifts and virtues — kindness, patience, peace and courage. We also have many attitudes and philosophies that wage war against these gifts and virtues — anger or resentment, lust or selfishness.
Paul called these virtuous ways the ‘new self’ and the sinful ways the ‘old self’. His approach to this battle is probably still the best way for us to grow in holiness. Simply put, it is “Put away the old self’ and “Put on the new self’ (Ephesians 4:22, 24). Paul saw this process of ‘putting on and putting off’ as the true battle going on in our hearts and minds. He was sure that if we could win little battles each day, then we could gradually be transformed into the very likeness of Jesus.
Thinking this way can lead us to conclude that this battle is all up to us. But that is far from the truth. Even Paul, who was as selfconfident, believed that he needed God’s help to win the battle. That’s why he liked to emphasize the presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 3: 16; Galatians 4:6). So be alert and pay attention to the battle going on inside of you. Ask the Spirit to help you see why you acted with kindness and love on one occasion and why you fell to deception or resentment on another. Do this everyday and ask the Spirit to strengthen you. Overtime, you’ll find the ‘new self’ becoming more and more prominent.